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Cargo Shorts vs Regular Shorts

Shorter versions of cargo pants are cargo shorts. These plants have multiple big utility pockets for carrying tools, which is one of its most noticeable features. Regular shorts, on the other hand, normally only have one set of hip pockets. Regular shorts have flat pockets instead of cargo pockets, and you won't be able to fit much in them. Continue reading to find out which short is best for you.

Khaki cargo shorts and gray regular shorts.

One of the problems I’ve always had is that of having too much stuff to carry around. Sometimes I need to move around with my phone, charger, car keys, wallet, and several other items. Unless I carry a small bag, which can be too bulky, I end up having to hold something in my hands.

The only solution that has worked for me is cargo shorts. These shorts are the answer to my modern-day problem of having too much stuff to carry around. Unlike regular shorts, they have several spacious pockets. They are also generally cool. 

What are Cargo Shorts?

Dark brown and camo cargo shorts.

Cargo shorts are a shorter version of cargo pants. Also known as combat pants or combat trousers, these pants’ original purpose was to be used as military workwear. They are loosely cut and designed for outdoor work environments. One of the most distinguishing features of these plants is their several large utility pockets for carrying tools.

Their legs extend down to near-knee lengths, and they have become quite popular as urban casual wear. Cargo shorts are loose-fitting, and they can be quite convenient for when you are taking foot trips or cycling, and you want to carry around extra items.

Related: 6 Alternatives to Cargo Shorts

What are Shorts?

Shorts are garments worn over the pelvic area. They circle the waist and then split to cover the upper part of the legs. There are many different types of shorts. Some have short legs, and some have legs extending down to the knee or a little further down. The most distinguishing feature of all shorts is that they don’t cover the entire length of the leg.

After all, the reason why they are called shorts is that they are a shorter version of regular pants, which cover the whole leg. Most people wear shorts in warm weather or when they are in a safe environment with no need to protect their legs.

Difference Between Cargo Shorts and Regular Shorts

There are several differences between cargo shorts and regular shorts. The main differences are to do with design and the number of pockets. Here are some of the key differences between cargo shorts and regular shorts.

Related: Can Shorts Be Business Casual? If So, What Types?


Three different color regular shorts isolated in a white background.

There are several features that differentiate cargo shorts from regular shorts. These features are mainly due to the intended purposes of the two types of clothing. Pockets are the most distinguishing feature of cargo shorts. Usually, cargo shorts have at least six pockets. This includes regular back pockets, hip pockets, and cargo pockets.

The pockets on cargo shorts are located on the upper legs. For easy access, the cargo pockets are positioned on the outer thighs, above the knees. These pockets are designed to be expandable. This means they get bigger as you put more items inside them. The pockets also have flap closures that can be secured with buttons, Velcro, or even magnets in some instances. Cargo shorts also come with other pockets that are not cargo pockets. This includes back pockets and regular hip pockets.

On the other hand, regular shorts usually come with one set of hip pockets. Unlike cargo pockets, regular shorts come with flat pockets, and you won’t be able to fit a lot of things in them. You might just be able to fit a phone in one pocket and a wallet in another before they are already full.


Cargo pants are made using hard-wearing fabric and are ruggedly stitched. Nowadays, most types of cargo shorts are made with fast-drying synthetic and cotton-synthetic blends. The idea is to make them with tough fabrics that can handle rough and tumble activities. On the other hand, shorts are usually made from softer polyester and cotton fabrics for comfort.

Design Features

Cargo shorts are designed to be somewhat loose-fitting. This makes them more comfortable in public than in regular shorts. Traditional cargo shorts are manufactured in khaki or camouflage designs. This makes sense considering their military roots. However, cargo shorts have evolved, and they now come in several other designs other than the original ones.

Typically, the majority of cargo shorts are made to be long enough to cover your knees. A lot of people prefer this size when it comes to shorts because the whole point is to keep your legs cool. However, you may find some longer versions that go beyond knee-length, especially those that start out as pants but come with removable lower legs allowing conversion into cargo shorts.

Regular shorts don’t really have any distinguishing features apart from the fact that they are a shortened version of regular pants. They come in different sizes, colors, and designs, so it’s upon you to pick the best design of regular shorts for yourself.

To get regular shorts with the best features, you should read consumer reviews online. However, it’s crucial to find reviews on sites that publish unbiased ratings from real customers. Alternatively, you can also go around stores and sample the latest fashionable shorts.


Camo cargo shorts front view and side view in a white background.

Cargo shorts are generally more durable than regular shorts. This is because they are meant to endure physical activity and harsh outdoor environments. You will also find that cargo shorts are made using hard-to-wear-down fabric, so they will easily outlive regular shorts.

Cost Differences

There is no distinguishable cost difference between cargo shorts and regular shorts. The price of shorts usually depends on the clothing label and material used. This means you can find shorts for as low as $10, and some can go up to $500.

Benefits of Each

One of the most significant benefits of cargo pants is how they make it easy to carry small items. If you are carrying items that won’t fit in your standard hip pockets, you can throw them in the larger cargo pockets. Apart from that, cargo pants are quite stylish as well.

Regular shorts also come with a lot of benefits. They are soft, comfortable, and extremely stylish. They can also help you keep cool during the hotter seasons. 

The History of Cargo Shorts

Cut cargo shorts situated in a white background.

The history of cargo shorts is tied to that of cargo pants because they are essentially the same thing, with the only difference being that cargo shorts are a shortened version of cargo pants. The majority of people wear cargo shorts and pants nowadays, and almost everyone has owned a pair at least once.

However, when cargo pants were first invented, they were meant for military personnel. Initially, these pants were designed for British soldiers. Their spacious and easily accessible pockets were perfect for storing extra ammo and several other battlefield items.

The idea of regular shorts predates trousers. Regular pants, as we know them now, were designed during the Victorian period. However, before this, well-to-do men used to wear ‘stockings and breeches.’ This combination consisted of a short-type garment known as the breeches. This type of short extended just below the knee. It was then fastened around the leg using buttons or a drawstring. Breeches were worn together with knitted wool stockings. 


Cargo shorts are extremely versatile. With the number of items one usually has to carry, they are easily the preferable option for most people. They provide the ultimate comfort, and they are perfect for outdoor sporting activities like cycling.